Sunday, August 31, 2014

Election choices: A brief examination of child poverty claims

Next Saturday the Child Poverty Action Group is holding a hikoi to demand action on child poverty. Doubtless Labour, Mana/Internet and  the Greens will be out in force. Here's how CPAG bill it:

One in four children don't get a fair go in New Zealand. They live in cold, damp, over-crowded houses. They get sick more often and end up in hospital with serious illnesses that can affect them for life.  Their families struggle to pay the bills and buy healthy food, which means they often go to school hungry and find it harder to learn.

It's time to call these people out on their claims.

1/ 22 percent of children live in households that have low incomes (using the favoured measure)

 2/ However, a majority of these children are not suffering from deprivation.

About 15% (red and green bar on the 60% measure) experience deprivation.

So one in 6-7 children is suffering some form of deprivation. What does that mean?

Describing hardship for children
Material hardship means going without goods, services, and experiences that people can reasonably be expected to have. Statistics New Zealand, with the advice of the Ministry of Social Development, has provided an analysis of what this means using the New Zealand General Social Survey data. They identified eleven key indicators of vulnerability such as:
having a smoker or a victim of crime living in the house (both about 20%)
living in a high deprivation area (22%)
living in an overcrowded house (13%)
having a low socioeconomic rating on the ELSI scale
having more than one housing problem like damp, cost, cold, or inadequate heating (10%)
having limited access to facilities like shops, schools, libraries and medical facilities (9%).
They assessed the six percent of children with five or more of these indicators as being at high risk of being in deprivation.
So children at high risk of deprivation number around one in 16 or 17 children.

Note too that:

   - 13 percent of children were living in an overcrowded house. Not one in four as claimed by CPAG.

   - 10 percent of children had a cold house problem. One in ten. Not one in four as claimed by CPAG

What about the claim that one in four " families struggle to pay bills and buy healthy food"?

Even in the lowest deciles 70 percent or more  families report having enough, just enough or even more than enough money. Having just enough may still mean they are struggling but they are managing to meet their outgoings.

Politicians  usual method of attracting votes is to bribe people with hand-outs. But another is to evoke feelings of guilt in the population along with promise to alleviate them. The worse the picture they paint (with the aid of their supporting pressure groups), the bigger the guilt burden they can lay on the voter.

Arm yourself with the facts before you make a voting decision.


Anonymous said...

'lies,damn lies and statistics'...Rodney Hide says....puhleeze!

Jim Rose said...

thanks, great post and links

Anonymous said...

An examination of what is true and what is not.

Not really, no. It is about what choices we want to make, particular with regards to borrowing, taxation, and "spending" (aka Health, Education, and Welfare (including super).

A debate about policy.

Again, no. Perhaps if Colin Craig has is way then we would have debates and votes about policy.

Really the question is who do we trust to make these decisions on our behalf. And on that front things are looking up - with the almost certain result of the election being a National / Conservative / ACT coalition that might - just - finally - enact some real policy.

Imagine - Jamie Whyte as Minister for the Disposal of State Owned Liabilities (was SOEs and Health); Colin Craig as Minster for Charter Schools (was Education) -

and no Minister for Social Welfare - because there will be no welfare. Hell, they could appoint you as transitional executive for the disestablishment of MSD.

keith said...

Thanks for your enlightening article. If only the MSM would open their blinkers a little